Melody is a timely arranged linear sequence that pitched sounds the the listener perceives together a solitary entity.

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Melody is just one of the most simple elements that music. A keep in mind is a sound with a specific pitch and also duration. Cable a series of note together, one after the other, and also you have a melody. However the melody that a piece of music isn’t just any kind of string of notes. It’s the note that record your ear together you listen; the line that sounds most necessary is the melody. Very first of all, a melodic heat of a piece of music is a succession of notes that make up a melody. Extra notes, such together trills and also slides, that room not part of the key melodic line but are included to the melody one of two people by the composer or the show to do the melody more complex and interesting are referred to as ornaments or embellishments.

Examples that Melody:


“Pop go the Weasel” melody  Play (help·info)


 Melody indigenous Anton Webern‘s Variations because that orchestra, Op. 30  Play (help·info)

There room some usual terms offered in discussions that melody the you may uncover it useful to know. Below are some an ext concepts the are linked with melody.

The form or contour of a Melody

A melody that continues to be on the same pitch gets boring nice quickly. As the melody progresses, the pitches may go increase or down gradually or quickly. One can picture a line that goes up steeply once the melody unexpectedly jumps to a much higher note, or that goes down progressively when the melody gently falls. Such a line offers the edge or form of the melodic line. Girlfriend can often get a an excellent idea of the form of this heat by looking at the melody together it is written on the staff, but you can likewise hear it together you listen to the music.


Arch shapes (in which the melody rises and also then falls) are simple to uncover in many melodies.

You can additionally describe the form of a melody verbally. Because that example, you can speak of a “rising melody” or of one “arch-shaped”phrase.

Listen: Ascending, Descending, and also Arch

Composer Richard Strauss’s Don Juan is a great example the ascending melody:

“Joy to the World” by composer George Frideric Handel prove descending melody:

Composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s romance exemplifies the arch shape, in which the melody rises and also then falls.

Melodic Motion

Another set of advantageous terms define how conveniently a melody goes up and down. A melody that rises and also falls slowly, v only tiny pitch changes in between one note and also the next, is conjunct. One may additionally speak of together a melody in regards to step-wise or scalar motion, because most the the intervals in the melody are half or whole steps or are component of a scale.

A melody that rises and falls quickly, with big intervals between one note and the next, is a disjunct melody. One may also speak of “leaps” in the melody. Many melodies space a mixture that conjunct and also disjunct motion. A melody may display conjunct motion, with tiny changes in pitch from one note to the next, or disjunct motion, with big leaps. Numerous melodies room an interesting, fairly balanced mixture that conjunct and disjunct motion.


Listen: Conjunct and Disjunct Melody

Start listening in ~ the 2:30 note to Beethoven, “Ode to Joy” indigenous Symphony No. 9 and also note exactly how the pitch rises and also falls slowly, producing conjunct melody.

A an excellent example the disjunct melody have the right to be discovered in Piazzolla’s, “Spring” tango because that violin, cello, and also piano.

Can girlfriend tell whether Chopin’s“Nocturne in E-Flat Major,” Op. 9 no. 2 is conjunct, disjunct, or a mix of both?

Melodic Range

Range refers to the distance in between the highest and also lowest notes discovered in a provided melody. Once a piece of music has wide range, over there is a great distance between the highest and lowest pitches heard. Conversely, as soon as a piece of music has narrow range the distance between the highest and also lowest pitches is fairly small.

Wide Range

Listen: broad and small Range

As you listen to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, in D Major, first Movement, note that the piece has a wide range in pitch.

Now listen to Brahms, Violin Concerto in D, third movement, and also note that it’s selection is narrow compared to the Brandenburg Concerto.

Melodic Phrases

Melodies are often explained as being consisted of of phrases. A musical phrase is actually a lot choose a grammar phrase. A phrase in a sentence (for example, “into the deep, dark forest” or “under that heavy book”) is a team of words the make sense together and also express a identify idea, however the phrase is not a complete sentence by itself. A melodic phrase is a team of notes the make feeling together and express a identify melodic “idea”, however it takes more than one expression to do a finish melody.

How carry out you spot a phrase in a melody? simply as you frequently pause between the different sections in a sentence (for example, as soon as you say, “wherever friend go, over there you are”), the melody typically pauses slightly at the finish of every phrase. In vocal music, the musical phrases have tendency to monitor the phrases and also sentences of the text. Because that example, hear to the phrases in the melody of “The Riddle Song” and also see just how they line up through the four sentences in the song.

But also without text, the paragraph in a melody deserve to be very clear as the notes space still grouped into melodic “ideas.”

One way that a composer keeps a item of music interesting is by varying just how strongly the finish of each expression sounds prefer “the end”. Through varying elements of the melody, the rhythm, and the harmony, the composer gives the end of the various other phrases stronger or weaker “ending” feelings. Often, paragraph come in identify pairs, with the an initial phrase feeling really unfinished till it is perfect by the 2nd phrase, together if the 2nd phrase to be answering a inquiry asked by the very first phrase. As soon as phrases come in pairs like this, the very first phrase is referred to as the antecedent phrase, and the 2nd is called the consequent phrase.The rhythm of the an initial two unit volume of “Auld Lang Syne” is the same, yet both the melody and also the harmony command the very first phrase to feel unfinished till it is answered by the 2nd phrase.

Antecedent and also Consequent Phrases


Of course, melodies don’t always divide right into clear, be separated phrases. Frequently the paragraph in a melody will run right into each other, reduced each other short, or overlap. This is among the points that keeps a melody interesting.

Listening Activity: Range, Motion and Contour

Define the melody that this ingredient in terms of range, motion, and also contour. J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6, an initial movement

Motive or Motif

Another term that usually describes a item of melody (although that can likewise refer come a rhythm or a chord progression) is engine or “motif”. A motive is a short musical idea – much shorter than a phrase – the occurs regularly in a item of music. A motive might only covers a couple of pitches or maybe split in smaller cells.

The “fate motif” indigenous the an initial movement the Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. This is a great example that a brief melodic idea that is supplied in numerous different ways throughout the movement.

Most figures and motifs are much shorter than phrases, yet some of the leitmotifs of Wagner’s operas room long sufficient to be considered phrases. A leitmotif (whether the is a really short cabinet or a lengthy phrase) is connected with a details character, place, thing, or idea in the opera and also may it is in heard whenever that character is on stage or the idea is an essential part the the plot. Just like other motifs, leitmotifs may be adjusted when castle return. For example, the very same melody may sound quite different depending on whether the character is in love, gift heroic, or dying.


A longer melody the at times keeps reappearing in the music – because that example, in a “theme and also variations” – is often dubbed a theme. Themes typically are at the very least one expression long and often have actually several phrases. Countless longer functions of music, such as symphony movements, have an ext than one melodic theme.


Theme native Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The track of this design template will be really familiar to most people, but you may want to listen to the whole last movement of the symphony to hear the various ways the Beethoven uses the melody again and again.

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The music scores because that movies and television contain themes, which have the right to be arisen as in a symphony or might be used really much like operatic leitmotifs. Because that example, in the music man Williams composed for the Star Wars movies, there are melodic themes the are associated with the key characters. These themes space often complete melodies with numerous phrases, however a solitary phrase have the right to be taken indigenous the melody and used together a motif. A solitary phrase that Ben Kenobi’s Theme, because that example, deserve to remind you of every the an excellent things the stands for, even if the is not on the movie display screen at the time.